Bandung, the old administrative capital of Dutch colonial rule, is an incredible settlement set in the hills of Indonesia. Now known as the Jakarta elite’s weekend playground, Bandung is host to a dizzying amount of factory outlet stores and so-called ‘richman bungalows.’ However, the imposing figure of Tangkuban Perahu, an active volcano about 1.5hr from the city centre, reminds the traveler that nature is never far in Bandung and indeed, there is a deluge of stuff to do in Bandung, both in terms of shopping and eco-tourism.
Most of Bandung’s population are of Sundanese descent, and hence they speak Sundanese, a variant of the official Bahasa Indonesia. There are a large majority of Muslims in Bandung. However, other major religious groups include Christianity, followed by Hinduism and Buddhism. There are many mosques and cathedrals of heritage that can be seen all around Bandung.
Hotels are plentiful in Bandung but take note that accomodation prices are noticeably higher than in locations such as Bali or Lombok. We recommend Patradisa Budget Hotel at Jalan Wastu Kencana as we feel it is value for money and the rooms are decently furnished and clean. Breakfast is included and best of all, the hotel is within walking distance of Bandung’s major malls and factory outlets.
Things to do
Bandung is definitely a place for all the shopaholics out there. There are many high quality fake items.Original goods are available in limited supply. Clothing, handbags, traditional handicrafts are all available in Bandung. Local shopping hotspots include Jalan Riau, Dago Street and Jalan Otto, where Pasar Baru, the 7-storied market and handicraft mega-store is located. You may have to take up to 2-3 days to fully explore and visit all the factory outlets in Bandung.
* Tangkuban Perahu Volcano
Tangkuban Perahu is a moderately active volcano 1.5 hrs north of Bandung. You can drive UP to the peak of Tangkuban Perahu, but strangely, not DOWN from it. Hence, the many local ‘guides’ will swarm towards you and offer their ‘expertise’ to scale down Tangkuban Perahu. If this is your first time here, we reluctantly advise you to pick a guide, who WILL overcharge you. At the peak, there will many local handicraft and strawberry sellers. There are also a few warongs at scenic locations where you can have a cup of coffee and enjoy the breathtaking scenery. Scaling down the volcano will take about 1 hour and you will pass by some steaming geysers and hot springs at the base of Tangkuban Perahu. You can have your feet massaged here with volcanic mud for about 20,000RP or alternatively, just dip your feet and relax in the plentiful hot springs around. This is a very touristy area, though.
* Kawah Putih Volcano
Kawah Putih (‘White Crater’) is an extinct volcanic crater located south-west of Bandung. The drive from Bandung city will take about 2 hours. There will be pickup vans at the base of Kawah Putih to take you up to the actual crater itself. Driving up with your own private vehicle is possible, but very expensive. These pickups only cost 15,000RP and use open-sided ‘safari-style’ pickup vans, which makes the ride up very interesting. The view of Kawah Putih itself is stunning and at times, surreal. Occasionally, the clouds will intermix with the sulphuric gases from the crater, forming this entirely white backdrop. A stunning location for photographs and a must-visit! A word of advice though,it gets really cold at the summit of Kawah Putih, so do bring along your jacket and gloves.
* Mount Papandayan
Mount Papandayan is located in the Garut Region, about 3 hours drive from Bandung. It is an active and highly unstable volcano that last erupted in 2002. Hire a guide at the base of the volcano and the trek up the volcano can take anywhere between 2 to 3 hours or an entire day, depending on the route you are taking. Along the way, you will pass by hissing sulphur vents and beautiful, eerily-white sulphur lakes.The stench of sulphuric gases is very strong here, so bring along a towel to cover your nose. At the summit of Mount Papandayan, there is a beautiful lake called Danau Hijau, which you can take swim in, if you want. Definitely a good place to snap great photos as the scenery is breathtaking. A must-go as you can get up-close to boiling craters and sulphur vents with no barriers. Do take your time to enjoy the scenery from the peak of Mount Papandayan.
* Maribaya Waterfalls
The Maribaya Waterfalls are located in Lembang, in the north of Bandung.Upon arrival at the Maribaya Waterfalls, we were disappointed as the waterfalls were not as shown in the brochures/online. However to our surprise, there was a National Park further down the trail called Juanda National Park, which houses historical World War 2 caves used by the Dutch and Japanese. The admission fee is 40,000RP per person to enter Juanda National Park. We then got ourselves ojeks(motorcycles) with local riders for the price of 20,000RP. They brought us down a small and rickety road into two caves,Goa Belanda (Dutch Cave) and Goa Jepang (Japanese Cave). A local guide will be present and a tour around each around 20, 000RP per group. The spooky feeling of being in the pitch-black caves will soon be overriden by the feeling of awe in being in such a historic location. The guide will even take you into the old interrogation and armoury rooms, so truly savour this unique experience.